One of the best things about T. – as well as his ability to drop round almost exactly when you need a chat and a cuppa – is that he keeps the Apocalypse Bakery very well supplied. T., as well as being something of an urban farmer, has a brilliantly active apocalyptic imagination. Which means that at the same time as handing over veg from his community garden, he will state that there are bacteria growing inside a Chernobyl reactor. Once he has clarified that there is no link between nuclear-radiation-eating-microbes and the beetroot in your hand, he will put on the kettle, and inform you of his plans to apocalypse-proof Edinburgh by growing veg on every available piece of land. I like to think that I would still be useful in T’s anti-apocalypse vegetable-based economy, and so I have been using his produce to test out the best recipe for chocolate beetroot cake.
I tried out three different cakes searching for the best taste and texture, leaving me feeling like the goldilocks of chocolate beetroot baking. The first was a good texture, but not chocolately enough. The second was the right taste, but just fell apart far too easily, and was slightly too damp. But the third one was just right! The chocolate was perfectly complimented by the earthiness of the beetroot, and the texture was more like brownie than cake, which I have decided suits the taste combination much better. It is rich without feeling decadent, moist without being heavy. And T. gave it the seal of approval, so I am in with a shout of being the trusted baker in his post-apocalypse farming community.
However, I’m not as keen on the actual eating of the cake as I am on making it. Baking this cake brings out the small-child-with-finger-paints side of me, as the beetroot turns the most amazing colours in the process. The wet mix is a violent shade of bright pink, while the purple batter becomes a beautiful dark ruby in the process of being baked. I’m also wondering if I’m just baking this cake repeatedly as an excuse to make cardamom icing, which goes with the cake so perfectly, and might just be my new favourite thing.
As an aside, someone sidled up to me at Cameo Curio and said in a low voice ‘I have heard rumours of a chocolate beetroot cake. Are they true?’ That person totally made my day, thank you, whoever you are. It made me feel like I was baking something so marvellous it should remain top secret and only available in coded messages.
Chocolate Beetroot Cake
Shockingly, this recipe is originally from Delia. F, I apologise, I know your dislike for her!
What you do need to remember about this cake is that you need to cook the beetroot first, which takes between 1 and 1 ½ hours, and then let it cool for a while. I forgot to let it cool, which didn’t seem to make too much of a difference.
100g dark chocolate
280g caster sugar
227ml (8 fl oz) sunflower oil – I just used vegetable oil
255g cooked beetroot – or 1 large and 2 small beetroots from T.’s garden
30g cocoa powder
255g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1) Wash and peel the beetroot. Cook it in a pot with water until it is tender. Puree the beetroot and let it cool. Or not, in my case.
2) Preheat oven to 180oC.
3) Grease and line a 9 inch cake tin. I used an 8 inch square tin.
4) Melt the chocolate, either in a bowl over boiling water, or in the microwave.
5) Beat together the eggs with sugar and oil. Gradually add beetroot to the mix. My mix turned bright pink at this point, but that might just be my fault.
6) Stir in the melted chocolate.
7) Sift in cocoa powder, flour and baking powder and mix the batter well.
8) Pour into the tin.
9) Bake for 1 hour. Mine was ready after 45 minutes.
10) Cut into slices or squares. From the 8 inch square pan, I got 16 decent sized slices.
Unfortunately, I made this icing up on the fly. Three times. You’d think that at least one of the times I would think about trying to record what I was doing, but no. Apparently the smell of cardamom makes me stupid. In my defence, this is the kind of icing that requires a personal choice about how much cardamom to use, and the kind of desired consistency. I used 1 crushed cardamom pod to 20g of icing sugar, and a dash of soya or regular milk – which was enough to ice 2 slices.
I will get a proper recipe up for this sometime, but in the mean time, I hope my inconsideration for your icing needs will prompt you to experiment and find the kind of icing you like!